Canberra firms feature in HIA National Housing Awards

Ian Bushnell 9 June 2020
Macquarie townhouses

The award-winning, sun-drenched Macquarie townhouses. Photos: Housing Industry Association.

A high-end, light-filled townhouse development in Macquarie and an ensuite in the heritage renovation of a home in Forrest that previously belonged to former treasurer and ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, have figured in the 2020 HIA National Housing Awards.

Creative Building Services and DNA Architects took out the Australian Townhouse/Villa Development award, while Preferred Builders, Paul Tilse Architects and Braithwaite Innovative Joinery shared the Bathroom of the Year honour.

Pitched at downsizers, the townhouse project’s design ensures the units are bright and airy, with its northern orientation and high-raked ceilings allowing an abundance of natural light to pour indoors, while guaranteeing a pleasant aspect to the external community garden, according to the award information.

Spacious, bright and airy

Spacious, bright and airy.

A key aspect of the design is a central courtyard separating the main living area from the master bedroom.

The judges were impressed with the impeccable workmanship of the trades, such as the joinery and tiling, plus the individuality afforded to each unit, calling it an incredibly well-executed urban project.

DNA Architects director Ross Norwood said the award was a surprise and nice reward for a commission that gave the firm great scope to design quality living spaces.

”You do every job as best you can but it’s nice to get something that confirms you’re heading in the right direction, ticking the right boxes and doing the right things,” he said.

Mr Norwood said the decision to build five units on a site that allowed seven enabled a more thought-out, generous design that catered for Canberra’s climate extremes and allowed the space to breathe.

”It shows what can be done with the quality of the build and quality of trades, and what you can do with the site, which is sometimes not a high priority,” he said.

The builders were exceptional with their attention to detail, and everything was done properly.

Front of the townhouse development

The view from the front of the townhouse development.

The spacious, four-bedroom two-storey townhouses are divided by the central courtyard and without the light well there would be flat ceilings and it would be dark right down the back of the unit, Mr Norwood said.

The ground level, with its master bedroom, can be self-contained, and the living area and garage is level with the street for easy access for residents ageing in place.

The Forrest renovation’s innovative ensuite reflected the balance of old and new, and masculine and feminine evident throughout the entire project, according to interior designer Vanessa Hawes from Paul Tilse Architects.

She said the clients wanted to pack as much as they could into the small 10 square metre space but still retain a spaciousness.

The key feature was the use of marble-look, three-metre porcelain panels on the walls and plainer stone coloured ones on the floor, cut to fit around the bath hole.

HIA Bathroom of Year

The HIA Bathroom of Year: the sublime quality of workmanship and the aesthetics make the design pop.

Ms Hawes said these had rarely been used before in such a tight space and proved quite a challenge for the builder to install.

The look was a mix of steel, stone and timber, much like the rest of the house.

A feature mosaic extended from the vanity wall all the way back into the toilet wall, and timber in the double vanity and recess over the bath made the space warm and inviting.

From the panelling to the joinery, the fine details are a tribute to the workmanship.

”With every detail of the joinery, even though you can’t see it you can feel it so it became part of the environment of daily use, which is just as important as what you see,” Ms Hawes said.

The judges were impressed with the sleek Manhattan-style, commenting on the sublime quality of workmanship and the aesthetics that make the design pop.

”The finished walls in understated marble-look panels and white mosaic tiling contrast with the galvanised black steel framing on the doors and mirror. Along with the matching matte black tapware, this gives the ensuite a durable appearance, without overwhelming the space,” they said.

To find out more, visit the 2020 HIA–CSR Australian Housing Awards.


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